11 Ways to Help Prevent Fleas and Ticks on Dogs

As a pet parent, you want to do what you can to prevent anything unpleasant or uncomfortable for your dog, and flea and tick bites are no exception. Fleas and ticks are different creatures, but both have the potential to become infestations on your pup’s body.

With some quality preventative products, you can help ward off fleas and ticks on your dog. You can choose from a flea and tick collar topical treatment, or you may need an oral prescription medication to eliminate the problem.

You should also be checking your pup regularly for fleas and ticks. Review below and find out eleven ways you can help prevent fleas and ticks on your dog.

Portrait of a happy dog. Small cute dog scratches himself in the park

What Are Ticks?

Ticks belong to a class of vertebrates called arthropods. They belong to a particular group known as mites. Ticks are external parasites, and they need blood to create eggs. There are two different types of ticks. These include hard ticks or soft ticks.

Hard ticks have a shielding plate on their back that controls how much they can feed. Soft ticks are leathery and do not have a protective plate. Tick larvae are less than one millimeter long, and nymphs are one to two millimeters long.

Adult ticks can be between two to six millimeters long and can grow ten millimeters long after consuming blood. Ticks are shaped like a flattened oval teardrop. They do not have wings or an antenna, and they can vary in color.

How Do I Tell if My Dog Has Ticks?

Ticks are tiny, and they feel like a bump on your dog’s skin. They are usually brown or black. Larvae have six legs, and adult ticks have eight legs. Ticks may get more prominent if they have recently feasted on your pup’s blood, much like fleas.

You may be able to find ticks in the following places on your dog:

  • Neck
  • Head
  • Ears
  • Creases under their legs

Most pet parents only see ticks after they have situated themselves in a particular location on their pet. However, you should be aware that when ticks get on dogs, they will typically move around on the body until they find the ideal spot to ingest the blood.

Two of the significant signs that your dog may have ticks is if they are licking and chewing a particular area on the body where the tick is located. The skin where the tick is embedded may also be red and inflamed.

What Are Fleas?

Fleas are small, brown, wingless insects with flat bodies and six legs. Their tiny little bodies are covered in hair. You need to be able to distinguish them on your pet. If you see your dog scratching themselves more than usual, they may be afflicted with fleas.

The diet of the flea consists solely of their host’s blood. Fleas that have just consumed blood can become twice as large as their average size. They can also cause the following:

  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Infections in blood vessels

Flea eggs are white and oval-shaped. Once the eggs break open, the larvae come out white. If your dog has fleas, there may be insect bites all over their skin. A flea bite looks like a red raised welt, which is typically very small, like the size of the head of a pin.

How Do I Tell if My Dog Has Fleas?

Adult fleas can be seen on your dog. However, fleas in other life cycle stages can be tricky to find. You can take a comb, run it through your dog’s fur, and place any hair onto a white paper towel.

If you see dark red specks on the towel, that is flea dirt, which is digested blood. Also, if your dog is scratching or grooming themselves a lot, it is a common sign that they might have fleas.

The following is a chart that specifies the differences between ticks and fleas. You will need to have a good idea of what you are looking for to prevent the problem.

INSECT LEG COUNT SIZE BODY TYPE COLOR SHAPE HOW DO THEY WALK
FLEAS 6 2-4 MM Flat body Brown, Black Oval Walk and Jump up to 30 cm
TICKS 8 Up to 10mm Tear Drop Shaped Green, white, orange, red, brown, and black Tear Drop They crawl

As you can see, ticks and fleas are quite different in appearance. Remember that ticks can come in various colors.

How Do I Prevent Fleas and Ticks on My Dog?

There are many vet-approved fleas and tick preventative products on the market. You will want to investigate before picking the product appropriate for your dog.

Regularly Inspect Your Dog

You will need to check regularly for ticks and fleas on your dog. Check the following places:

  • Feet (between the toes)
  • Legs
  • Lips
  • Around the eyes
  • Inside the ears
  • Near the anus
  • Under the tail

You may also want to check under your dog’s collar for any hidden invaders. When checking for ticks, feel for bumps on your pup and the part of the fur.

Learn the Correct Method of Tick Removal

Use tweezers or a tick removal tool. Wear gloves and pull the tick by the head. Make sure that all parts of the tick have been removed. If you cannot remove the tick yourself, take your dog to the vet.

Regularly Mow the Lawn

Keep the grass as short as possible. Do not walk in areas with grassy patches where ticks can hide. Get rid of tall grasses and brush from your yard. Keeping your lawn, trees, and bushes trimmed will decrease the likelihood of a flea and tick invasion.

Keep the House and Their Bed Clean

Wash their bed with soap and hot water and heat dry. Keep the house clean by vacuuming regularly and emptying vacuum containers outside.

Keep Your Pup from Wooded Areas

This advice is essential during tick season. Please do not allow your pup to roam through wooded areas where they risk picking up ticks. If your dog does go outside, use tick preventative products. Check them even if they have only been outside for a short time.

Oral Medications

Many oral flea and tick medications are available by prescription only. However, there are some on the market that you can get without a prescription.

Oral pills work by targeting either adult fleas or flea eggs. The medications stay in the dog’s bloodstream for some time and eliminate existing parasites while preventing new infestations.

Topical Drops

Topical medication is applied to your dog along the entire back from the base of the neck to the tail. The drug will destroy the flea or tick’s nervous system, nullifying their ability to feed on your pup’s blood.

What Are Some Good Tick and Flea Preventative Products?

There are many fleas and tick preventative products on the market, and it can be tough to choose. Take a look at the chart, which may help you narrow down the list. Talk to your vet before giving your dog any flea or tick preventative.

WHO MAKES IT PRODUCT NAME MORE INFORMATION ON PROTECTION
Frontline Flea and Tick Ticks, fleas, eggs, larvae, lice, topical monthly,
NexGard Flea and Tick Kill and prevent ticks and fleas for 30 days, chewable, prescription needed

As you can see, there are a lot of different flea and tick products to choose from. Select the above links for more information.

Conclusion

There are various ways you can protect your fur baby against fleas and ticks. Before purchasing any preventative product for your dog, discuss your options with your veterinarian.

 

 

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Cornerstone Veterinary Hospital of Clifton Park was founded in 1989 as Animal Care Hospital of Clifton Park. We began with 10 employees, 4 of whom are still working with us today. The name “Cornerstone” has special meaning to Dr. Knott and his family, both because it symbolizes their commitment to “faith, family, and then everything else,” and because it promotes the animal hospital as a cornerstone of the Clifton Park community.